Conway Scenic Railroad Article

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Conway Scenic Railroad
Conway Scenic Railroad logo.png
Conway Scenic locomotive 4268.JPG
Display EMD F7 beside the 1874 North Conway freight depot
Locale White Mountains region of New Hampshire
ConnectionsNew Hampshire Central Railroad
Commercial operations
Built byPortland, Great Falls and Conway Railroad;
Portland and Ogdensburg Railroad
Original gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Preserved operations
Owned byProfile Mountain Holdings Corp; Mountain Division right-of-way owned by the State of New Hampshire
Operated byConway Scenic Railroad
Reporting markCSRX
Length51 miles (82 km)
Preserved gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Commercial history
Opened1872
1875Mountain Division is completed and connected.
1890 Boston and Maine Corporation acquires the Conway Branch.
1972Conway Branch abandoned north of Ossipee.
1983Mountain Division abandoned.
Closed1972
Preservation history
August 4, 1974Started
1994Mountain Division operations begin.
Headquarters North Conway
Website
conwayscenic.com

The Conway Scenic Railroad ( reporting mark CSRX) [1] is a heritage railway in North Conway, New Hampshire, United States, owned and operated by Profile Mountain Holdings Corp. The railroad operates over two historic railway routes: a line from North Conway to Conway that was formerly part of the Conway Branch of the Boston and Maine Railroad, and a line from North Conway through Crawford Notch to Fabyan that was once part of the Mountain Division of the Maine Central Railroad. The Conway line is owned by Conway Scenic, and the Mountain Division is owned by the State of New Hampshire.

The railroad's main terminal is located in historic downtown North Conway in the Mount Washington valley. The station complex has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1979. [2]

History

Conway Scenic Railroad was founded by local businessmen Bill Levy and Carroll Reed and a Boston and Maine Railroader named Dwight Smith. They purchased the abandoned station and rail line from Conway to Intervale (7 miles) from the Boston and Maine in 1974. Smith bought Canadian National 7470 and the first train was run on August 4, 1974.

In 1984, the Mountain Division was abandoned, and for ten years the Conway Scenic was insulated without a connection to the wider United States rail network, until 1994 when they obtained an operating lease from the state of New Hampshire, who had purchased the line from the Maine Central the year before. On December 17, 1994, the first train to Bartlett was run, with operations through Crawford Notch starting in September 1995. The first train to Fabyan Station was run in September 1996. Expansions east to Redstone (a village in Conway) and west to Hazen Road in Whitefield were added in June 1998, but those two points have only been used for special runs.

The original owners were bought out by husband and wife Russ and Dot Seybold in 1999. [3]

On January 30, 2018 Russ and Dot Seybold closed on the sale of the railroad to Profile Mountain Holdings Corp. [4]

Operations

The Dorthea Mae dome car

The railroad operates excursions of varying duration under two banners - the "Valley Train" which runs either south to Conway (55-minute round trip) or west to Bartlett (1¾-hour round trip), and the "Notch Train" covering the line through Crawford Notch. The Valley Train excursions include the dining car Chocorua, the 1898 open-deck Pullman observation car Gertrude Emma, an open-air car, and several restored heavyweight coaches, some dating back to the 1920s. The Notch Train service is typically a 5-hour round trip to Crawford Depot (located at the height of land in Crawford Notch), but is extended to 5½ hours during the fall foliage season when the train travels all the way to Fabyan Station, located near Bretton Woods in the town of Carroll. The Notch Train includes an open-air car (Silver Cascade #1308 [5]), a vista dome car (Dorthea Mae), a first-class car (Carroll P. Reed), and commuter coaches retired from the Montreal commuter pool. In 2010, [6] a restored dining car built as N&W Powhatan Arrow 492 in 1950, and now named Hattie Evans, was added to the train. [7] Annual special events at the railroad include Day out with Thomas, a railfan day on the first Saturday of September, Polar Express-themed trips during December, and a "Steam in the Snow" (or "Covered Wagon in the Snow" when 7470 is not available) photographer's special in early January sponsored by the Massachusetts Bay Railroad Enthusiasts. [8]

Special freight operation

On June 20, 2009, a 20-axle Schnabel car was brought down through Crawford Notch carrying a 227-ton transformer for Public Service of New Hampshire, an electrical utility company. It was the first scheduled freight train through Crawford Notch since September 3, 1983, the first freight train of any kind since October 1984, and the first and only revenue freight move for the Conway Scenic to date. [9]

Locomotive roster

Active units

Number Builder Type Build date Status Notes
573 EMD GP7 1950 Operational Ex- Maine Central unit acquired from Guilford Rail System. Typically referred to as "Mr. Miller's Engine", 573 was the preferred power for the Maine Central business train by the president of the Maine Central Railroad, E. Spencer Miller. When Guilford acquired the Delaware and Hudson Railway in 1984, 573 became Delaware & Hudson 573. In 1988 when Guilford sold the D&H, they kept 573 and assigned it to Springfield Terminal and renumbered it 27. 573's first season at the Conway Scenic (1996) was operated as number 27. Today 573 is the typical motive power for Valley Train excursions.
4266 EMD F7A 1949 Operational An ex- Boston & Maine unit leased from the 470 Railroad Club of Portland, Maine. This locomotive pulled the last Ambassador train on September 3, 1966, and was also the last "F unit" to operate on the Boston & Maine Railroad, having been retired in 1976. After returning to service in the late 1980s, 4266 was used by the Conway Scenic Railroad to run the first trains to Bartlett, NH, on December 17, 1994, Crawford's Depot on September 1, 1995, and Fabyan Station in September 1996. Today the engine sees limited service, reserved for special duty only and serving when needed as backup power for the Valley and Notch trains.
23 Budd Company RDC-1 1952 Operational AKA "Millie"; the only fully operational RDC in New Hampshire. Originally built for the New Haven Railroad. Purchased from the New York, Susquehanna and Western Railway in the summer of 2008; used to provide Valley Train services during the off-peak season and private charters.
252 EMD GP38 1966 Operational Acquired in a trade from Pan Am Railways in March 2010. An ex- Boston and Maine, exx- Maine Central unit, 252 was the leading unit that pulled the last regularly scheduled freight train through Crawford Notch on September 3, 1983. In 1984, 252 was assigned to the cleanup train for the Calais Branch which Guilford shut down, making that the last train on the Calais Branch. In the late 1980s, 252 was put into storage at Iron Horse Park in North Billerica, Massachusetts, until 1995 when it was removed due to the shop's closure. It was subsequently refurbished and put back in service, being assigned to the B&M. In December 2009, 252 was retired by Pan Am Railway. Following its trade in March 2010, the engine was delivered to the Conway Scenic at Hazens in the town of Whitefield on June 23, 2010. From there to North Conway, 252 ran under its own power. On July 13, 2010, Kurt Ward, a resident of Conway and a former Conway Scenic employee (2000), was killed in a railroad accident while working at Pan Am Railways, East Deerfield Yard, in East Deerfield, Massachusetts. Because Kurt Ward worked extensively with this engine, the Conway Scenic named 252 in his honor on July 28, 2010.
216 EMD GP35 1965 Operational Acquired in a trade from Pan Am Railways in March 2010. Ex- Springfield Terminal 216, Exx- Norfolk Southern 1328, Exxx- Norfolk and Western 1328. 216 has been assigned to the Notch Train along with 252 and is expected to operate on a rotating schedule with 252. The engine has dual controls in the cab and can be operated from either side. 216 was delivered on May 14, 2010, and made its inaugural run June 22, 2010. Keeping with Maine Central tradition, 216 and 252 are often referred to as the "Yellow Birds".
1751 EMD GP9 1956 Operational This unit was acquired in a trade from the Finger Lakes Railway in November 2011. The unit was delivered along with the 1757 on September 22, 2012.

Inoperable units

Number Builder Type Build date Status Notes
7470 Grand Trunk Railway Point St. Charles Shops Steam, 0-6-0, CN O-18-a 1921 Out of service 7470 is the only active coal-fired standard gauge steam locomotive in New Hampshire. This engine was originally built in 1921 by the Grand Trunk Railway as #1795, which was absorbed by the Canadian National Railways two years later as #7470. 7470 began operation on the Conway Scenic with the railroad's inception on August 4, 1974, and until the early 1990s its number was abbreviated as #47. Primarily used to power the Conway-bound Valley Trains, there have been special excursions such as the annual "Steam in the Snow" to Notchland Inn, that typically takes place the weekend after New Years Day. 7470 has also made trips through Crawford Notch (last notch run was in July 2011). 7470 used to operate July - October but that ended in 2007 with the addition of "Day Out with Thomas" event. With the FRA-mandated 15-year boiler inspection due and now underway, 7470 made its last run on January 3, 2015. 7470 is expected to return to service in the summer of 2019, once the inspection and re-certification of its boiler is complete.
1757 EMD GP9 1956 Display Owned by the 470 Railroad Club, this ex- New Hampshire Northcoast unit has become the donor unit for the ex-BM #4268. This unit was delivered on September 22, 2012, along with the 1751. In September 2016 this unit was started up for the first time since arriving at the Conway Scenic and was left idling for a couple of hours behind the roundhouse. This engine never turned a wheel under its own power for the Conway Scenic. Once all usable parts are transferred to the 4268, the shell of this engine is expected to be scrapped.
501 Alco Steam, 2-8-0 1910 Display/Pending restoration Originally built for the Maine Central Railroad, this engine was the last steam engine to operate on the Mountain Division in 1953; this was also the final run for 501. Currently owned by the 470 Railroad Club, [10] this engine was delivered to the Conway Scenic by rail in November 1983 and has been on display ever since. It was undergoing a full operational restoration to operate on the Conway Scenic in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but the plan was canceled indefinitely in 2007, after work had ceased on it about six years earlier. Since 2007 the engine has undergone a complete cosmetic restoration. In an article written by the Conway Daily Sun [11] dated April 13, 2018, ownership of the Conway Scenic stated that they were going to consider looking into purchasing the 501 from the 470 RR Club, in an effort to restore it back to operation, so that the railroad could have two operating steam locomotives again (see info on #108). Management said an engineering firm would need to be hired to assess the condition of the engine, before moving forward with anything else. As of October 2018, 501 had been removed from display by the turntable and placed back on display by the freight house, where it had been on display from the mid-1980s through mid-1990s. There has been no official announcement from the Conway Scenic, but 470 RR Club members are confirming the green light for a full restoration to operation. Restoration will begin once space is freed up in the roundhouse at the completion of 7470 boiler re-certification (2019) and the completion of 4268's full restoration (2020). The loose date for the 501's return to service is 2022/2023.
4268 EMD F7A 1949 Under restoration An ex- Boston and Maine unit, nee-EMD Demonstration unit #930, now owned by the 470 Railroad Club. 4268 arrived in North Conway in 1992 on a flatbed truck and has been on display ever since. In December 2011 the 470 Railroad Club announced their intentions to return this unit to full service. Since all that remains is the shell, ex- New Hampshire Northcoast GP9 - #1757 (retired a few years before) was purchased in November 2011, to be used as a donor unit. On April 17, 2018, the 4268 was removed from its long-time display spot near the freight house and moved into the roundhouse to start the restoration. With the Conway Scenic Shop doing most of the work, the 470 Railroad Club hopes to have the engine running again sometime in 2020.
360 General Electric 44-tonner Display Owned by the State of New Hampshire; lettered for New Hampshire Central. This engine, which arrived on property in June 2005, is for sale. 360 is only on property for safe storage and has never been in operation for the Conway Scenic.

Former units

Number Builder Type Build date Notes
1943 General Electric B23-7 1978 Originally owned by Conrail, this locomotive was delivered in June 2005 and was slotted to take over regular Notch Train duties from the "sisters" when its overhaul was complete. Although the engine made many test runs both in revenue and out of revenue, it never made it into regular service due to ongoing electrical issues. In November 2011, this unit along with 2820 was traded to the Finger Lakes Railway for Finger Lakes GP9 unit #1751 and was shipped out soon after.
2820 General Electric U23B 1975 Originally owned by the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, this locomotive, which was delivered in June 2005, operated in 2006 and 2007 before suffering a broken crankshaft. In November 2011, this unit along with 1943 was traded to the Finger Lakes Railway for Finger Lakes GP9 unit #1751 and was shipped out soon after.
6505/6516 GMD FP9s 1954/1957 A pair of ex- Canadian National units, nicknamed "the Sisters". These locomotives were acquired from Via Rail and were delivered to the Conway Scenic on August 14, 1995. The locomotives were the primary motive power for Notch Train excursions starting on September 16, 1995, with 6516 entering into service working the notch as a powerless unit (became powered in 1998) with ex-B&M 4266. 6505 entered full operational service on September 23, 1996, and would remain like that until August 2006 when service was taken over by 2820. The Sisters worked the last few weeks of the 2006 Notch Train season but would not turn a wheel again till September 2007 when the 2820 suffered a broken crankshaft. From that point on the Sisters remained the primary power through the 2009 season. In March 2010, the locomotives were traded to Pan Am Railways for 252 and 216 to become the motive power for Pan Am's business train. 6505, which last operated on October 18, 2009, was shipped out on May 14, 2010, and had its inaugural run with Pan Am Railways on July 1, 2010, under its new number "PAR 1". 6516, which last operated on May 31, 2010, was shipped out on July 7, 2010, running the engine under its own power for the final time through Crawford Notch. 6516 rejoined "PAR 1" and became "PAR 2", having its inaugural run with Pan Am Railways on August 1, 2010. The sisters were seen together for the ceremonial kick-off for the Downeaster track work extension in Brunswick, Maine, on August 2, 2010.
1055 Alco S-4 1950 An ex- Portland Terminal Company unit. This locomotive provided backup power for Valley Train excursions and was the railroad's main diesel engine for the Valley excursions until the arrival of 573 in 1996. 1055 was sold to the Downeast Scenic Railroad (DSRX) on April 9, 2010, and was shipped out on May 14, 2010. Today 1055 is the primary power for the Downeast Scenic.
15 General Electric 44-tonner 1945 An ex-Maine Central unit, [12] this engine last operated in October 2005 during Railfans Weekend. 15 used to serve as the primary engine for the MOW crew and was the first diesel engine to operate on the Conway Scenic. The unit was sold in December 2010 to the Southern Prairie Railway in Ogema, Saskatchewan, and was shipped out on a flatbed truck on June 14, 2011. The engine arrived at its new home 7 days later, where it receive a full restoration and continues to operate.
108 Baldwin Steam, 2-6-2 1920 Originally "San Augustine County Lumber Company" #108; later became Angelina and Neches River Railroad #108 until 1954, when it was sold to the Reader Railroad. Acquired from the Reader Railroad in 1976, 108 operated on the Conway Scenic from 1977 to 1988, when it was retired due to mechanical issues and the engine being too small to pull on the steep grades. 108 sat on display in North Conway until 1999, when it was sold to Rannoch Corporation, who moved it back to its home state of Texas, where it was stored on the Blacklands Railroad and disassembled. [13] [14]. Now owned by Robbins Rail Museum of Alabama, 108 still resides in Texas in pieces.

See also

References

  1. ^ Railinc, Search MARKs, accessed July 2009
  2. ^ Carroll County Listings on the National Register of Historic Places (District - #79003792)
  3. ^ "Conway Scenic Railroad -- History: Conway Scenic Railroad, Inc". Retrieved 2016-12-18.
  4. ^ https://www.conwaydailysun.com/news/local/conway-scenic-rr-sold-to-profile-mountain-holdings-corp/article_85b6185a-0602-11e8-846a-0bed9a4d0496.html
  5. ^ https://www.flickr.com/photos/paulastephens/22207170676/
  6. ^ CSR from Maine Rail Group from off rail use from Norfolk & Western
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-09-17. Retrieved 2009-09-05.
  8. ^ Massachusetts Bay Railroad Enthusiasts (Upcoming Excursions, Tours, and Special Events)
  9. ^ Tucker, Edith (June 24, 2009). "End of line for made in China transformer. 411-ton transformer is hauled on Conway Scenic RR". Coos County Democrat. Retrieved July 17, 2011.
  10. ^ 470 Railroad Club membership page
  11. ^ [1]
  12. ^ Ozark Mountain Railcar listing Archived 2009-09-27 at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ "Request for Expressions of Interest in Acquisition of Steam Locomotive #108". Railway Preservation News. July 25, 2005. Retrieved June 28, 2011.
  14. ^ "Steam Locomotive #108". The Rannoch Corporation. Archived from the original on 2005-02-04. Retrieved July 27, 2011.

External links